Voices of Conscience, Trenchcoats for Goalposts & All Our Stroud Yesterdays

Announcing three new events this November and two more this December:

Saturday 12th November 7.30 pm £12
TRENCHCOATS FOR GOALPOSTS
Prince Michael Hall, The Bacon Theatre, Hatherley Road, Cheltenham

Friday 11 – Sunday 13 November
ECHO CHAMBER – VOICES OF CONSCIENCE
The Old Town Hall, Shambles £1 all profits to Stroud Refugee Aid

Wednesday 16th November
ALL OUR STROUD YESTERDAYS
9 pm Subscription Rooms £5/£4

Friday 9th December 8:00 pm £10
TRENCHCOATS FOR GOALPOSTS
Painswick Centre, Painswick

Saturday 10th December 8:00 pm £10
TRENCHCOATS FOR GOALPOSTS
Comrades Club, Nailsworth

Announcing three new events this November and two more this December:

Saturday 12th November 7.30 pm £12
TRENCHCOATS FOR GOALPOSTS
Prince Michael Hall, The Bacon Theatre, Hatherley Road, Cheltenham

Be transported in theatre, spoken word, live music and song to No Man’s Land in a moving and funny re-creation of the 1914 Christmas Truce. Inspired by local stories and memories, two brave Cheltenham Town FC players set off from Cheltenham for the front line. A compelling 90 minute show.

Friday 11 – Sunday 13 November
ECHO CHAMBER – VOICES OF CONSCIENCE
The Old Town Hall, Shambles £1 all profits to Stroud Refugee Aid

A sound and photography exhibition marking 100 years of conscientious objection.
Quakers have a long history of opposing war and when conscription was introduced in Britain during World War One, many chose to conscientiously object to joining the armed forces. For some this meant rejecting any form of participation and they were imprisoned and sentenced to death for their refusal (later commuted). Others took up alternative forms of service, providing relief from suffering at the front. There were over 16,000 registered conscientious objectors (Cos) during World War One. People objected on different grounds. This exhibition is inspired by their stories.
Opening times: Fri 11th 2pm to 7.30 pm
Sat 12th 10 to 6pm
Sun 13th 10 to 5pm

On Saturday 12th November at the Echo Chamber (11am, 12pm and 2pm), Rachel Simpson and Stuart Butler will give readings from ‘Dorothy and Archibald’, a folding publication, with illustrations, produced to coincide with this year’s Stroud Book Festival. Designed and illustrated by Katie Johnston, an RCA graduate from Nailsworth, this collaborative book features texts by Stuart and Alice Butler, on the mutual suicide of Private Archibald Knee and Dorothy Beard in 1916, at Iron Mills Pond, near Avening.
Copies of the limited edition publication will be available for purchase. Hope to see you there!
£3 a copy; 2 for £5

In this year of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and its shocking futility, it’s salutary to hear the thoughts of conscientious objectors – religious, socialist, communist, pacifist et al. Dorothy Beard and Archibald Knee, too. And the Old Town Hall in the Shambles is a perfect setting; but take a few moments to visit the railway station, Cheapside and Rowcroft first:

When wounded soldiers arrived at Stroud, ‘There was the usual uncertainty as to which railway station they would arrive at, and consequently the crowds were thickest at the top of Rowcroft, where the roads from the two stations meet. Here people lined the streets six or eight deep, and there was only a narrow way left for the passage of motor-cars and carriages, which had been kindly lent by residents to convey the wounded to hospital…’

Two years later:
‘The Somme pictures proved to be the greatest cinema attraction ever presented to the public of the Stroud district, and we congratulate the management of the Empire Theatre on securing the wonderful film for their patrons…The pictures gave us some little conception of the tremendous amount of energy expended in this one theatre of the war. They gave us, too, some faint inkling of the immense and tragic waste of war: the blasted land, the material wreckage, the broken men and the irrecoverable lives. Their effect was saddening and at the same time inspiring…The half-demented German prisoners aroused sentiments not of derision but of pity…But the dominant impression was that of the bouyancy of our own incomparable men. Surely in all the tragic history of war a more light-hearted, high-spirited and fearless army has never marched into the zone of death and pain? The incalculable debt we owe to these heroes can never be liquidated: for all time the race will be their debtor. No words could record so convincingly as these pictures of actual war scenes the splendid spirit of Britain’s fighting men.’

If you want to find the old battalion,
I know where they are, I know where they are, I know where they are
If you want to find the old battalion, I know where they are,
They’re hanging on the old barbed wire,
I’ve seen ’em, I’ve seen ’em, hanging on the old barbed wire.
I’ve seen ’em, I’ve seen ’em, hanging on the old barbed wire.

Conscientious Objectors and WW1: A few facts

1. NUMBERS: Conscription was introduced in 1916 and, with a numerical symmetry, there were about 16,000 conscientious objectors in this country by the end of the war.
2. NUMBERS: Over 2,000 tribunals sat in judgment on men, deciding on their sincerity over conscientious objection. Members of the tribunals saw their role more to intimidate men into the armed forces rather than grant a fair hearing. But as Ann Kramer puts it in her book Conchies: Conscientious Objectors of the First World War: ‘After all, as many objectors commented; how does a man prove he has a conscience?’
3. NUMBERS: Tribunals could make 4 choices: absolute exemption; an alternative to military service; rule that an individual could take a non-combatant role within the army; reject the application totally and order combatant duties.
4. RESISTANCE: Conscientious objectors carried on resistance, however, in the face of tribunal decisions. For example: refusing medical examinations; refusing to wear uniforms; refusing to march; refusing to salute or stand up.
5. RESPONSES: Responses included the following: polite persuasion; forcible wearing of uniforms; wearing of straitjackets; exposure to extreme cold or heat; solitary confinement; prison; beatings up; field punishments, and then, in the weeks before the Battle of the Somme in 1916, 50 men were secretly transported to France to receive death sentences.
6. DEATH SENTENCES: The death sentences were announced to the men in groups – and then after a few seconds pause, the officer would announce that the death sentence was commuted to ten years’ imprisonment with hard labour.
7. PRISON: Over 6,000 conscientious objectors received prison sentences: ‘Funny. You’re in for murder and I’m in here for refusing to.’
8. ABSOLUTISTS AND ALTERNATIVISTS: ‘Absolutists’ were not prepared to accept any military role, but ‘alternativists’ accepted ‘work of national importance’, such as working on the land, within hospital services, and so on. These numbered about 6,500.
9. AFTER THE WAR: The end of the war saw a variety of forms of victimisation, including the withdrawal of the right to vote for five years.

Wednesday 16th November
ALL OUR STROUD YESTERDAYS
9 pm Subscription Rooms £5/£4

Stroud Football Poets’ 20th anniversary celebration with Crispin Thomas, Stuart Butler, Dennis Gould, John Bassett & Jeff the Fuse. Expect reflections on all that makes his town so creative and vibrant in verse, drama and song. Featuring poems on Stroud and more with extracts from the Poets’ most recent acclaimed on-going production Trenchcoats for Goalposts (Christmas Truce 1914). Expect the unexpected! Unmissable!
And with extracts from the melancholy story of the joint suicide of Dorothy Beard and Private Archibald Knee at Avening in 1916, with Eve Biard as Dorothy.

Friday 9th December 8:00 pm £10
TRENCHCOATS FOR GOALPOSTS
Painswick Centre, Painswick

Saturday 10th December 8:00 pm £10
TRENCHCOATS FOR GOALPOSTS
Comrades Club, Nailsworth

Be transported in theatre, spoken word, live music and song to No Man’s Land in a moving and funny re-creation of the 1914 Christmas Truce. Inspired by local stories and memories, two brave Forest Green players set off from Nailswoth for the front line. A compelling 90 minute show.